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Tag: Dead Sea

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

The London branch of the Ahava cosmetics store was closed for three and a half hours (11:30 am until 3pm) on Shabbat when activists, acting on behalf of the International Solidarity Movement, locked their arms together on a concrete slab with tubing leading into the middle of the shop.

The protestors were removed and consequently arrested by London Police.

Ahava store in London shut down

The aggravated trespass charge will be challenged on grounds that Ahava is an unlawful business ergo no lawful activity was stopped by the provisional blockade.

For those who have not felt the mineral magic of Ahava’s Holy Land blessed face, body and hand, bath and hair, botanic, spa, anti-aging, dermud and various other products – I feel bad for you.

You don’t know what you’re missing!

A privately held Israeli firm founded in 1988, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories’ central location and much-visited visitors’ center is located in Mitzpe Shalem, in the spectacular Judean desert; a spitting distance from the magical Dead Sea and the freshwater springs of Ein Gedi: playground for the Syrian Brown Bear, Mountain Gazelle and Nubian Ibex, where King David hid from his persecutors and composed Psalms to Elohim.

37% of Ahava company shares are held by the settlement of Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem, 37% by Hamashbir Holdings (investment fund of B. Gaon Holdings and the Livnat family), 18% by Shamrock Holdings (investment fund of the Roy E. Disney family), and 7% by Kibbutz Kalia.

Mitzpe Shalem is about 9 km from the green line, Kibbutz Kalia too lays in disputed territory.

According to international law, a person of any nationality may establish a factory in any country, so long as they pay taxes to the local government. The Palestinian Authority does not receive any kind of bursary from the lucrative Israeli cosmetics firm, and therein is found the grievance.

To put things into context, listen to this:

Last year, while on display in London at the British Library, the antiquities minister of Jordan urged the Britons to return the Dead Sea Scrolls to them, rather than to their home at the Israel Museum. The reason? The ancient Hebrew Biblical scriptures on sheepskin parchment, dating from 50 AD and backward were uncovered in Qumran in the Judean Hills before the founding of the State of Israel, in “annexed territory.”

Come on! Like Jordanians can read Hebrew!

The “pillage” or “plunder” of materials, referencing the all-natural ingredients of Ahava products is illegal under international humanitarian law; specifically Articles 23, 53 and 55 of the Hague Regulations; Articles 51 and 53 of the 4th Geneva Conventions and Article 8(2)(b) of the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court.

Once an Israeli government official was asked about the legality behind the activities of the Ahava firm and this is what they said:

“The Palestinians did nothing with this land when they had it…And the Palestinians still have access to the Dead Sea. If they wanted to, they could set up a factory themselves.”

In November 2009, the Dutch Foreign Minister launched an investigation into the conditions which Ahava products are made to determine if the firm’s practices and location flouted international law and European Union labeling regulations.

This is what a representative of Ahava had to say:

“The Dead Sea and its treasures are international and do not belong to one nation…The company was founded out of love for the magical environs of the Dead Sea and throughout the years has been driven by a deep passion to reveal the secrets of the minerals’ rejuvenating effects on the skin. Therefore, the natural location of the factory is along the western shore of the Dead Sea.”

The Ahava factory outlet in Israel is open Sunday through Thursday 8-5, Friday 8-4, and Saturday 8:30-5.

The Eighth Natural Wonder of the World – Khouloud Daibes

It’s set in the lowest point on Earth, and it’s the saltiest lake on Earth – surrounded by a beach of splendid salt crystals, and breathtaking mountains. The Dead Sea is one of Israel’s natural wonders, and it has been one of the wonders of my life. It is actually one of the natural wonders of the entire world – that’s how the Israeli government feels and that’s why they would like to enter it in the Seven Natural Wonders of the World competition.

dead sea 2009So what’s the problem? The problem, as usual, is the damn neighbors. The State of Israel received a letter from the Palestinian tourism minister, Khouloud Daibes, threatening to withdraw their consent to have the Dead Sea participate in the international competition, because the Israeli company, Ahava engages in activity on occupied Palestinian land. Daibes put it like this:

“I express my objection to promoting the Dead Sea in the competition, alongside products like Ahava, which are produced illegally in the Israeli settlement on occupied Palestinian lands, and promoting the business of the Megilot Regional Council along the Dead Sea’s northern coast at the international tourism fair in London at the beginning of November.”

Stas Misezhnikov of the Israeli tourism ministry disagreed:

“If the Dead Sea wins the competition, the entire region will prosper, and this will help all the involved countries and entities: Israel, the Palestinians and Jordan…the attempt to drag a complicated diplomatic dispute into a competition which is based on honoring the seven wonders of the world does not serve any of the sides. Moreover, intervening in the competition in this manner may lead to the disqualification of the Dead Sea, and we will all be damaged.”

The minister told Ynet:

“It should be noted that 2008 was a record year in incoming tourism to Israel, and affecting the territories as well, which were visited by more than 1 million tourists. If the Dead Sea wins, this trend will grow even more.”

According to a Dutch Socialist Party website, the foreign minister of Holland intends to investigate if Ahava products, which bear the label, “Made in Israel” are actually made on occupied land.

The Dead Sea made it to the list of Natural Wonders of the World last July, along with 27 other sites, among them:
The Grand Canyon, Matterhorn, The Great Barrier Reef, the Amazon rainforest, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Galapagos Islands, the Mud Volcanoes of Azerbaijan, Lebanon’s Jeita Grotto, Ireland’s Moher Cliffs and the Black Forest of Germany.

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